The Olympics and the Vancouver housing price: if you sell it, people will buy.

Prior to the Olympics, no one listened. Right after, no one listened.

Coming from another Olympic city, I know the changes the Olympic games can bring to a city.
Those changes were, in my opinion, detrimental to Vancouver.

The first change the Olympic games brings is the advertisement. I watched the “super natural British Columbia” commercial that ran before and during the Olympics like everyone else
Except I grunted and cried a little every time it did.

Oh no. If you market, it will sell. Now people will from all over the world will buy a home in Vancouver.

Why? Because they can afford it. There are hundreds of billionaires and tens of thousands of millionaires in the world who own villas and vacation homes and retirement plans in resort towns all over the world. The Vancouver housing, as expensive as it is to a low-income city (Vancouver’s median income is (34k!), it’s small beans for many people who spend one million in one weekend without a thought.

Now, the actual problem is that the City of Vancouver as a government is not designed to be a resort city and can’t function that way. It needs to people to live here and spend here in order for the city and the government to thrive.
So what to do?

Two clear solutions. 1. Restructure (taxes) so empty homes contribute to a thriving city, 2. Make it unattractive to leave a home empty.

It’s simple. But the discussion is very muddled. Because everyone sees a personal gain. They feel ripped off.  They think “if it weren’t for the foreigners, I could live next to Stanley park and pay $1,500/month.” (I’m not kidding. someone said this to me.)

They stop looking out for what is the best for the city.

Notice “chasing away all foreign buyers” does nothing good for the city. Collecting data on the nationality of buyers is misleading and dangerous: permanent residents are foreign nationals.

Notice “therefore every one of you gets a home in Vancouver” is also not a part of it. “Affordable housing” is not “houses made available to YOU at an affordable price.”

To me, the anger comes from the arbitrary borders of cities. People like having “Vancouver” in their address and can’t manage the inferiority they feel not having it. No wonder – we were raised to be the best in class, not happiest in class.

The competition heats up when Vancouver is an extremely small city of only 115 km2.

The best solution to calm people’s anger and allow the discussion to focus on what’s good for the city is to curb people’s entitlement about it. If we didn’t feel entitled to it, we don’t feel ripped off.

Run similar TV commercials about how wonderful PoCo is with its mountains and Maple Ridge is for its camping.
Advertise it’s half the time to commute downtown from Coquitlam than from Boundary and 35th, Vancouver.
Advertise all the gentrification and commericialization happening in Vancouver – you don’t know if suddenly they might build a highway over your house one day.
Advertise that, even though we all look the same on the surface, people in Vancouver have nothing put away for retirement and will immediately have to move upon retirement, being severed from their social ties just exactly at the time of their life when they need it.

When people say they are from Toronto, they are really from Scarborough.
Most people “from White Rock” actually live in Surrey.
They don’t even correct you it you live in Chiba and call it Tokyo.
Heck, hardly anyone who claim to live “on The Drive” actually live within a block or two of it.

And they do it so confidently.

Why do people in Burnaby appear so sheepish and give you 20 reasons Burnaby is a fine choice every time they mention where they live?
Because they can’t handle the feeling of inferiority it causes and how people might perceive them as “not good enough to live in Vancouver.”